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Discussion Starter #1
A while back I posted a thread about muzzle loaders and how I was looking for one.
I found one. I got a sweet deal on a NIB T/C Hawken. It cost me less than a few boxes of ammo.
Anyway, I might try and sneak in my first deer hunt next week. My only problem is, I've never shot the gun and I need a good shopping list of the essential items needed. So, let me know what I need, what I don't need etc.

Also, lets talk ammo. Is a lead ball sufficient to humanly kill a deer? I know there are better, more modern projectiles; so what do you suggest?

One more question; propellant. I like the idea of being a traditionalist, so I'm thinking I'd like to use real black powder. I'm a kid at heart, so I really like lotsa flame and smoke.
:comeandgetsome:
But, I got to admit, the convenience of the pyrodex pellets has me interested. Do they only come in 50 grain increments? I'm not sure I could get a correct loading only being able to shoot 50 grain (thats pretty weak, right?) or 100 grain, which seems to be a bit much.

Set me straight, for once, I'm the rookie around here.
 

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Here are a few suggestions.
Balls, my Hawken performs best with a plain-patched round ball, be sure to grease the patch to make it easier to load. And lead balls were used to kill deer long before conical bullets showed up.

Short Starter, a short ramrod used to start the ball into the bore, then use the ramrod to seat the ball.

Capper, holds a supply of percussion caps and has small fingers to hold and seat cap, great when wearing gloves or just cold stiff fingers.

Powder flask and measure, used to store and dispense loose powder.

Powder, have not tried the pellets yet but mainly use Pyrodex, measures like black powder and has the same smoke and flash but cleaner burning and easier to clean up.

When you find a load your rifle likes place a small mark on the ramrod to insure the ball is seated to the proper depth.

Good luck on your new smoke pole it will provide many hours of enjoyment.
 

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Thanks, I'm going to go order up a few items today. I need to go get it sighted in this week.
 

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I also use patched balls, in my Traditions .50 flintlock. Note that this and some other rifles have very long twists for their rifling, like 1:66. This will stabilize a short ball, but will not stabilize a longer slug well.
 

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Try some different loads and check for best accuracy before making your descion. I use pellets but I use 209 primers. With powder whether it be black powder or black powder substitute you can control velocity more for better accuracy. The only thing MSGT/RET left out is the cool clothing to go along with the Hawkens. I have a T/C Black Diamond so I don't get to wear the cool clothing.
 

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Round balls will work but they don't have energy that the Maxi-balls do.

The Maxi's are more of a conical bullet and in my rifle they are more accurate. I have killed several deer and a bear with them and I have yet to recover one, all of them shot completely through.

You just don't get that penetration with a round ball.
The round ball you should be using is a .490 round ball with a .010 patch. I would start out with 70 grains of powder. The round ball doesn't need as much powder, in fact, if you use to much you will see your accuracy start to fall off.

On the other hand, the Maxi-ball doesn't use a patch, its a bit over sized so that it takes more effort to start it, but its generally more accurate. Most people around here use 90 to 100 grains of powder.

The key is to experiment. Start low, and see how accurate it is. Increase your charge by a couple of grains and somewhere along the line you'll find the sweet spot. If you are getting big fireballs you have too much powder. The black powder rifle can only burn so much powder before it starts blowing it out the barrel and when that happens it'll ignite as soon as it hits the air.

With the round ball and patch you can shoot a bunch before you have to clean the rifle, as the next patch cleans it as you go. The Maxi-ball doesn't work that way,because its such a tight fit, you'll be lucky to get 4 or 5 shots before loading becomes difficult.

Like any other rifle, the trick to good accuracy is consistent loads. I measure my powder on a measure just to be sure and use the same pressure to tamp the charge. With the Maxi- ball and 92 grains of FFg, I can have 3 shots touching each other at 50 yards with the standard irons sights from a good rest.

The advantage of Pyrodex is that it isn't near as messy or smoky. It is harder to ignite and in some rifles it doesn't seem to be as consistent.

With black powder, Natural Lube sold by T/C works the best. Its a non petroleum product, its actually a vegetable based lube that works well. The petroleum stuff interacts with black powder and makes it very hard to clean, no such problems with the other stuff.

These rifles are a lot of fun. So far I have resisted going modern, I still use my Renegade with the iron sights. With that 50 caliber Maxi, I can kill pretty much any thing I see around here and its accurate enough to be downright fun to just go out and play with.
 

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I would advise you sixto if you had picked up a modern inline, but seeing as thats all I know about (T/C Black diamond .45), these other guys will steer you in the right direction , as I'm unsure of whether it would be advisable to use modern sabots in a traditional, but I will say you should use pyrodex or this
Pioneer Powder Jim Shockey's™ GOLD™ Powder : Cabela's ,Jim Shockey gold, and also get some speed loaders too.
Good luck


Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." -- Ernest Benn
 

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Biggest thing...keep your powder dry. I know it sounds cliche but black powder, pyrodex and 777 can soak up moisture out of the air. So on a humid (not even rainy) day you can have problems if you don't keep everything sealed up tight. Also, I buy powder in smaller amounts so that I'm buying fresh powder often and I throw out all of my left overs from year to year.
 

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Biggest thing...keep your powder dry.
Thats actually good advice that seems to be ignored quite frequently by muzzle loader hunters. Once the gun is loaded, you can slip a condom ... yes, I said condom ... over the muzzle to keep rain/snow or moisture out of the barrel. You can also cut off the fingers of a laytex rubber glove and use those to cover the muzzle too. Best part is, you can shoot through the condom and it wont affect your accuracy.
 

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I shoot a Thomson New Englander #11 caps side breach, My load is a .490 round ball with a .010 patch and 80gn Porodex FFG & never had a animal lost or go more than 25 yards all pass throughs ;-) PS I snap a few caps throughthe gun before loading ALWAYS gose BOOM!! Just my 2cnts
H/D
 

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All good advice,now for my 2 cents, find yourself a good possibles bag,deep with a flap and wide strap that wont dig in to your shoulder,I use a Claymore Mine pouch. Its already OD green,they are free and easy to find.
 

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A round ball will do the job for you. The T/C barrel will shoot either ball of the Maxi's very well. Personally I prefer real black powder to pyrodex of any of the new substitutes. As far as throwing away last years powder, I never have any left over!
 

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As far as throwing away last years powder, I never have any left over!
Nice! :hand10:

Just to clarify a bit. I usually don't just throw it out. I usually use it up in the off season for fun. But I NEVER use old stuff when I go hunting. I dump my speedloaders that go unused after a couple of hunts. I'll even dump them every day if weather conditions are bad. Powder is cheap (in the grand scheme of things). Not getting the deer of a lifetime because you didn't pay attention to detail could be a life long regret.
 

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I'd stay away from real black powder. It's really corrosive. FFg Pyrodex will work great. Don't forget, the amount of powder you use is measured by volume, not weight as smokeless is. 90 grains will probally get you a good group with a round ball in .50 cal with a patched ball. Good luck with your hunting. You'll love it.
 

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You might want a few speed loaders, not that you will neeed more than one shot, but just in case
.

You never can tell.
A friend of mine shot at a good buck that was standing about 70 yards away and missed it. The buck ran about 10 yards and stopped, looking around. He couldnt figure out what was happening. My friend had time to load his second shot and with that one he got him.

I always carry 3 speed loaders plus the shot in the gun.
 

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+1 on the speed loaders, but more than that clean the barrell after every shot. the Hawken I used to have insisted on it, Especially if you plan on using black powder. When I first started muzzle loader hunting I shot at the same deer three times one morning with my hawken and I aint touched him yet. I would shoot ,he would run 10 yds, three times , finally I had to run him off after I ran out of bullets, After All this I went home and couldnt hit a milk jug at twenty yards, cleaned the barrell and back to bullseyes.
 

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I've been using a TC Hawken in .50 since 1975. I shoot a .490 roundball with 100 gr of Goex FFg which is "real" blackpowder. I've tried conicals, maxi bullets, and pistol bullets with sabots and they all work well for deer too but the round ball has always killed as well as anything else. The only roundball I've been able to recover went thru bone in both shoulders and was under the skin opposite side. Dead deer. I like staying a bit more traditional by using real BP and a round patched ball.
You have to shoot your gun to see what load it likes. They're all a bit different and have their favorite loads. In 1975 my Dad and brother got Hawkens too. Dad's preferred 85 gr and any more the groups would open up. My brother's preferred 110 gr for tightest groups. If I drop below 100 grs then my groups open up.
Others have pretty well listed the accessories to get your going. You'll also need something like a nipple wrench, patch puller, bullet puller, extra ramrod, extra nipple, patch knife if you use strips of material for patches. I also carry a paperclip to use as a nipple pick. I picked up a nylon overlength ramrod which is unbreakable. I like the ramrod to be about 4" longer than the barrel when it's being carried. It makes it easier to remove the ramrod when reloading. After breaking a couple of wooden ramrods I went with the all nylon.
Pick up a good patch lube. Don't use spit to wet your patch when hunting. Spit will dry out during the day and it doesn't lube the barrel.
After shooting make sure you clean it well. Hot soapy water is about as good as it gets. When rinsing use hot boiling water poured down the barrel. It will heat the barrel where the water will evaporate and make it easier to dry. Then oil it up and you're good for the next time. I always remove the nipple when cleaning and clean the nipple separate. That way the nipple threads get cleaned and lubed. Also don't forget to wash off the hammer and metal and wood around the hammer. Residue from the cap will get on those items and corode.
They're a lot of fun. Enjoy.
 

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I'd stay away from real black powder. It's really corrosive.
Is this true? Anything documented on it? I have been warned just the opposite, that pryodex is more corrosive as it is more acidic. I have been using Black Powder since the late 60's and have never had a rust problem.

Michael
 

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I buy powder in smaller amounts so that I'm buying fresh powder often and I throw out all of my left overs from year to year.
Real black doesn't go bad. Its not like smokless of the other fake stuff. I order my black 25 lbs at a time and never worry about it. I will admit that most the time it doesn't last over a year. I would never throw black powder out, it will be good 100 years from now.

Michael
 
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